Diplomatic Options With Syria and Iran: And Will There Be a Handshake?

It has been a crazy political week for the US and other major actors in the Middle East.  But diplomacy has a chance as the contours are starting to come into view:

Without much warning, diplomacy is suddenly alive again after a decade of debilitating war in the region. After years of increasing tension with Iran, there is talk of finding a way for it to maintain a face-saving capacity to produce a very limited amount of nuclear fuel while allaying fears in the United States and Israel that it could race for a bomb.

Syria, given little room for maneuver, suddenly faces imminent deadlines to account for and surrender its chemical weapons stockpiles — or risk losing the support of its last ally, Russia.

For Mr. Obama, it is a shift of fortunes that one senior American diplomat described this week as “head spinning.”

via Quick Turn of Fortunes as Diplomatic Options Open Up With Syria and Iran – NYTimes.com.

Today, France indicated that Iran must be part of Syrian peace discussions, but, of course, with preconditions.

Another issue brought up in Mark Landler’s Diplomatic Memo: will there be a handshake between President Obama and Iranian President Rouhani?  And, not to be outdone–the Borowitz Report, from the literary magazine’s version of Colbert/Stewart:

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Republican leaders warned the newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that they would frown on his shaking hands with President Obama at the United Nations today, saying that any embrace of Obama would signal that Iran was not serious about abandoning extremism.

“We welcome President Rouhani’s moderate rhetoric,” said Senator Rand Paul (R-Ken.). “But those words are rendered hollow if he is willing to shake the hand of a notorious extremist.”

“This is a man who has enslaved his people, saddling them with a health-care law not of their choosing,” said Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). “The President of Iran should think twice before shaking hands with a man like that.”


4 thoughts on “Diplomatic Options With Syria and Iran: And Will There Be a Handshake?”

  1. I have high hopes for diplomacy in the region, though we’ll have to see what happens.

    Syria: I’m glad that diplomacy has appeared to do something and hope that things work out. But I don’t trust Syria to give up the weapons, especially with Congress effectively killing the US’s threats. Even if there is no plan to actually go into Syria, making it clear that we can’t make good on our threats is bad form (side note: Not that I expect anything close to good form or effectiveness coming out this Congress). As the article mentioned, pressure is key, especially in this region.

    Iran: I really want something good to come with all of this. Even a handshake would be great. I was really excited when I saw that Rouhani was elected this summer and would love for relations to normalize, or at least begin on that path. As far as nuclear weapons is concerned, I think Iran will make at least some meaningful concessions. Also, as one of Syria’s major allies in the region, it definitely needs to be brought into peace talks. There should be no question about it.

  2. Finally after decades diplomacy seems to be an imminent solution. As in the Iran, U.S. situation there is now a democratic leader more sympathetic to the United States. Now as to whether this is in part because of the crippling sanctions on his country or his genuine desire for western relationships, or a combination of the two, is unknown. However I remain optimistic to the engagements scheduled.
    With Syria, I must agree with previous comments made above. I do not trust them, even in light of recent diplomatic success. I still remain optimistic.

  3. As I was watching and reading the importance of a “potential handshake over lunch,” it made me laugh at how significant an everyday greeting can be. While there is no doubt this moment will be significant, if it actually happens, I feel that our attention as a country should be focused on the meaning behind the direct communication through letters instead of a gesture that may happen. I also wonder if the people of Iran even see the potential handshake as an important and meaningful gesture, after all shaking hands is a common practice in the United States. All in all, it will be interesting to see if this handshake occurs or if any subsequent letters, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings will occur with Obama and Rouhani.

  4. Diplomatic intervention will be important in this situation. Especially now that the Syrian government has to choose between surrendering their chemical weapons or losing all of its allies. There is reason for us to come to the conclusion that a military intervention would’ve been the wrong choice in Syria, and that diplomatic agreements will bring a lot better results. When a country feels oppressed its government will reply with force and violence, but when a country feels segregated from the rest of the world it’ll try to come to terms with the nations that they need to do trade with. I think that as the United Nations, the United States, Russia, and other Arab nations pressure Syria to surrender their weapons, they will feel the economic pressure and agree to the terms that will be applied upon them.

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